As ISIS advances in Libya, the radical jihadist group could soon be attacking shipping in the Mediterranean. Noting ISIS’s latest achievements in the failed North African state, Seth Cropsey warns of worse to come in The Wall Street Journal:
Greater ISIS access to the Mediterranean would be deeply troubling to the region and a large strategic advance for the terrorist group. ISIS’s prospects for significant naval power are remote. But small boats, fishing vessels, smugglers, and merchant craft that carry concealed weapons could hijack, sink, or rake commercial shipping including cruise liners in the central Mediterranean. This would divide the eastern part of the inland sea from its west and expose Europe’s southern littoral to attacks and kidnappings.
Containing this will be more difficult than most Americans realize, Cropsey notes:
In the Cold War era, the U.S. Sixth Fleet, America’s Mediterranean naval force, consisted of two aircraft carriers, an amphibious ready group and escorting vessels. Today it consists of a command ship based in Italy and a handful of destroyers armed with guided missiles based in Spain. In a crisis the Sixth Fleet commander must rely on naval combatants that might be passing through on their way to or from the Persian Gulf.
The Western intervention in Libya in 2011 created a collapsed state, and unfortunately (though not entirely unpredictably), a group such as ISIS was perfectly positioned to capitalized on that. Now, we must reckon with the consequences.One of the ways that reckoning is likely to come, as Cropsey’s comments suggest, is in the form of increased military activity (not just active fighting, but activity such as naval patrols) in areas we’d hoped to write off as pacified. Such developments will only accelerate America’s ongoing trends toward rearmament and a more aggressive foreign policy.